Sainz: ‘A lot of satisfaction’ that switch to McLaren was the ‘right move’
A stunning sixth place in the drivers' championship in his first year with McLaren vindicated Carlos Sainz’s decision to move to the squad from Renault. But the Spaniard has said that the “good vibes” at the team were plain to see even before the 2019 season got under way.
Sainz secured the highest championship finishing position of his career in 2019, claiming P6 thanks to a last-lap move on former Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg for 10th place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Sainz’s efforts alongside team mate Lando Norris also saw McLaren jump from sixth in the constructors’ standings in 2018 with 62 points to fourth (their best finishing position since 2012) with 145 points in 2019.
And asked after the race in Abu Dhabi to reflect on his decision to leave Renault and join McLaren, Sainz said: “Obviously I have quite a lot [of satisfaction].
“I had good feelings when I moved to McLaren, even if things did not look very promising at the end of 2018. I did have some conversations with a lot of engineers, a lot of people – Zak [Brown] and all – and I don’t know, the project itself just gave me good vibes.
“I don’t know if it has anything to do with the good results, but those good vibes translated very quickly into results and a change in approach by McLaren, a very big change in the structure of the team.”
We’ve secured P4 in the standings, our first podium in years and all of a sudden it looks like the right move
McLaren have indeed undergone a significant change in structure in 2019, with the appointment of James Key as Technical Director and Andreas Seidl as Team Principal, who in turn made Piers Thynne his Production Director, Andrea Stella his Performance Chief and Paul James his Team Manager. They also have a new wind tunnel in the works.
And it seems that those changes are starting to pay off, with Sainz claiming McLaren’s first podium since 2014 at the Brazilian Grand Prix this year – while the Spaniard now wants to see the team “move forward” again in 2020.
“We’ve secured P4 in the standings, our first podium in years and all of a sudden it looks like the right move [to join Mclaren],” said Sainz. “I’m very happy, I’m very pleased to see a great group of people performing at a very high level and being so hungry and motivated to move forward still.”
McLaren will have an added motivation going into next year, meanwhile, as the team gear up for a return to Mercedes power for 2021, reuniting a partnership that previously yielded three drivers’ championships, one constructors’ championship and 78 wins between 1995 and 2014.
The final constructors' championship standings
|3 Red Bull Racing
|6 Toro Rosso
|7 Racing Point
|8 Alfa Romeo Racing
|9 Haas F1 Team